Jeffrey Carroll missed his first five shots Saturday afternoon and the Oklahoma State Cowboys fell behind 23-15. But it was only a matter of time before the second-leading scorer in Big 12 games got going in helping the Cowboys to a 84-71 victory over the Texas Longhorns.
Carroll, who entered the game averaging 18.6 points in conference games, helped his team recover from an eight-point, first-half deficit by sparking a 20-2 run. Then the fourth-year junior hit a 3-pointer as the Cowboys scored 10 straight points to open the second half to take a commanding 48-33 lead.
Carroll was 7-of-19 shooting and scored 18 points to tie Phil Forte for team-high scoring honors. Davon Dillard (career-high 15 points and 8 rebounds), Jawun Evans (12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists), and Leyton Hammonds (11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, including going a perfect 3-for-3 on treys) also scored in double figures.
The victory gives OSU wins in six of its last seven games, which is the best stretch after the start of the New Year since the 2012-13 team won seven in a row in Big 12 play. OSU improves to 16-9 overall and 5-7 in the conference, while Texas falls to 10-15 and 4-8.
"I'm really pleased. I thought we had a great energy here," Cowboys head coach Brad Underwood said. "I thought we were focused pretty well and we were dialed in with our emotions. We didn't always play the most intelligent, but we'll work on that. But I love the fact we were aggressive and our energy was good."
Leyton Hammonds said, "We didn't really come off to a hot start like we were trying to, but coach preaches that defense and rebounds wins games. As you can see, our shots weren't falling in the first couple of minutes, and we were missing a lot of easy layups. But once we started playing defense, rebounding, getting that transition, the floor opened up for us and baskets started opening up for us."
Carroll wasn’t the only Cowboy struggling to get the ball into the basket to start the game.
The Cowboys struggled to score the first 10 minutes of the game and trailed 23-15 after UT’s Jarrett Allen’s dunk. But they went from eight points down to taking a 35-25 lead with a 20-2 run over the next six minutes.
"I was actually not too panicked or worried because we were just missing layups," Underwood said. "We got the ball where we wanted and we were getting good shots. It wasn't that they were contested or that we were stymied by what they were doing. Now, I was upset by the fact they were getting their points in transition. That was one of the things we talked about at length. Texas does a great job of getting the ball out very quick and getting up the floor. We didn't cut very well, but I felt great about the offense."
Forte’s 3-pointer got the run started and the Cowboys fifth-year senior guard scored eight points during the critical stretch, which included a Carroll layup and slam dunk to put the Cowboys up 26-25. The critical stretch included OSU scoring 13 straight points and held the Longhorns scoreless for more than four and a half minutes before they rallied to pull within 38-33 at halftime.
But the Cowboys opened the second half with the 10-0 run which all but put the game out of reach before the Gallagher-Iba crowd of 8,592 had returned from the concession stand.
"It was energy. We talked about that at length. We talked about the first 4 minutes of the game and the first 4 minutes of the second half," Underwood said. "I'm really proud of Leyton Hammonds. We had many discussions about how he had struggled and not played well. He had two great days of practice and he had 3 rebounds in 5 minutes because he was in foul trouble. But he never let that bother him. (He was) 3-of-3 for 3-pointers and he stretched us and got things open. But I was really proud of him."
The Cowboys are back in action Wednesday night when they travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU. They defeated the Horned Frogs 89-76 on Jan. 23 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.